Calling all Social Innovators

Vodacom and RLabs have teamed up to bring you the “Community Information Challenge 2010”.

Many people in local communities have mobile phones and use them for voice and text. However, the use of mobile Internet is growing fast and can be used to enhance local communities. The mobile Internet can be used to share many types of information around the globe but there is often difficulty in finding local and relevant information.

The Community Information Challenge is looking for innovative and fresh ideas, on how local and relevant information can be accessed and shared, with the local community.

The solution must be deployable in South Africa but is not restricted to this region. The winning entry will receive a one-off prize of R20,000 cash AND the opportunity to discuss deployment options with the Vodacom Innovation team. The overall winner across the three Vodacom Challenges will scoop up a further R 20,000 cash!

Entry Criteria:

* Entrants must be registered as a developer in the Betavine Community
* Entries need to be submitted in English
* Entries must be designed to be deployable in South Africa (but not restricted to this region)

How to enter:

After signing in you’ll be able to click on the “Create a Solution to this Challenge” button at the bottom of this page and start uploading prototypes or application designs to your Solution page.

Once you’re logged in, existing Solutions can also be linked to this challenge.

All entries must include the following documentation:

1. Solution description
2. Sustainability plan
3. Pilot testing plan

See the attachments section for the full brief, which contains more information on what is expected in each document.

Who can enter?

You must not be (and none of Your parents, siblings or children can be) a current employee or contractor of Vodafone/Vodacom or RLabs.

Success criteria

The judging panel, made up of representatives from Vodacom and RLabs, will assess the entries based on the following criteria:

* Value to the potential user – how much safer will it make the average user feel?
* Ease of use and deployment – how easy is it for a non-technical user to understand, use and benefit from the application? How easy is it to quickly deploy the solution in a real community context?
* stability and scalability – how easy is it to add increasing amounts of concurrent users to the system?
* Innovation – how does the entry use mobile technology to provide creative solutions to address existing problems?
* Sustainability – how viable is the long-term plan for meeting and/or exceeding operational costs?
* Viable pilot testing plan – what criteria will be used to judge the success of the pilot test?

One cash prize R20,000 with the opportunity for meetings with the Vodacom Innovation team to discuss deployment options.
AND the overall winner across the three Vodacom Challenges will scoop a further R 20,000 cash!

Opening and Closing Dates:
Opening: 8th March 2010
Closing: 31st May 2010

If you are concerned about protecting your intellectual property rights, then you are strongly advised to seek independent professional advice as to the possibility of safeguarding any potentially inventive element contained within your entry by means of a patent application or other form of intellectual property right, before submission of your entry.

Source: Betavine


“Twitter Gangsters” at the Innovation Fair

Two weeks ago the RLabs team were managing the Social Media activities for the World Bank at the Innovation Fair. A local newspaper visited RLabs to cover the stories of the RLabs “Twitter Gangsters” (Watch Day 2 Video Highlights for explanation). The article can be read by clicking on the image above but below is a short introduction to the article by Toni Stuart of the Atlone News:

“RLabs, an Athlone-based social media organisation, had the spotlight turned on them, while they were the official social media partners of the World Bank’s Innovation Fair. RLabs, born and based in Tarentaal Road, Bridgetown, were approached by the World Bank to manage the social media arount their Innovation Fair which took place at Hotel le Vendome in Sea Point on Wednesday and Thursday April 14 and 15.
This fair’s them was Moving Beyond Conflict, and brought together social innovators from across the world to talk to their peers and donors about the work the are doing and what the challenges and successes have been.
The participants were happily surprised to discover a working example of a social innovation suceeding right under their noses. Delegates were so impressed with RLabs that they invited the organisation to share its story….”

As RLabs it was a honour and privilege to be part of such an amazing event and surely the experience for the “Twitter Gangsters” was beyond anything we thought would be possible. Now we are looking forward to the next story in the RLabs Chapter.


RLabs Asia coming soon…

After an eventful day in meetings it is with great excitement that we are launching a RLabs (Reconstructed Living Lab) in Malaysia, South-East Asia by next semester. This new initiative being part of the RLabs family will see the growth of Social and Community Innovation growing beyond local contexts but to global communities. This partnership with a local non-profit in Malaysia will see the first of its kind expansion of a Community-driven approach to Innovation in Communities in Tension.

More information about RLabs Asia will be posted here soon but for now an information pack on RLabs can be downloaded here.


FREE Access to World Bank Development Data

Today the World Bank Open Data Initiative is opening up one of the world’s most reliable and comprehensive databases on developing economies. It includes more than 2,000 indicators from countries around the world, including hundreds that go back 50 years. This open access to such data will allow Social Innovators, Entrepreneurs and Researchers with reliable data to construct and define problems for economies that are in need of Innovative solutions. For more information visit the Open Data Initiative website.

World Bank’s Open Data Initiative from World Bank on Vimeo.


Challenges Facing Mobile-Only Internet Users in the Developing World

I came accross a very interesting article by Shikoh Gitau,Gary Marsden, and Jonathan Donner on the Challenges facing mobile-only Internet Users in the Developing World. Abstract from the article:

“This study reports results of an ethnographic action research study, exploring mobile-centric internet use. Over the course of 13 weeks, eight women, each a member of a livelihoods collective in urban Cape Town, South Africa, received training to make use of the data (internet) features on the phones they already owned. None of the women had previous exposure to PCs or the internet. Activities focused on social networking, entertainment, information search, and, in particular, job searches. Results of the exercise
reveal both the promise of, and barriers to, mobile internet use by a potentially large community of first-time, mobilecentric users. Discussion focuses on the importance of selfexpression and identity management in the refinement of online and offline presences, and considers these forces relative to issues of gender and socioeconomic status.”

This is very interesting as we’ve found similar findings with in our Senior Mobile Sessions at RLabs. The main hurdles in this study for Mobile Internet were:
1. GPRS Settings (With our Seniors they normally find their children or grand children to set up their mobile Internet for them)
2. Security Settings (Due to most of the mobile handsets being handed “down” to our group of users most of the security settings have been seen to by previous owners.)
3. WAP / Menu Confusion (Many of our Seniors find the WAP menus of the various handsets to be confusing as well.)
4. Unfamiliarity with Passwords (Having to remember passwords to access certain services becomes a tedious exercise and the reason for not using certain services)
5. No Mobile Version of Web Site
6. Web-mail: Chicken or the Egg? (Web Mail proved to be a massive problem for our group as well and most preferred signing up for it via a PC. However, once having their GMAIL account setup it was easier for them to use it via their mobile phone.)

With all the challenges, Mobile Web is still growing at a rapid pace with expected users in many developing countries far exceeding PC-based Web users.


RLabs’ Mom 3.0 programme impacting lives of Women

Over the last few weeks RLabs started their Mom 3.0 programme that saw many women being impacted by being empowered to share their stories with the world. The Mom 3.0 programme is a follow-up to the Mom 2.0 programme with a short description below:

“Mom3.0 café sessions are hosted for women from the community who are housewives, unemployed, been through divorce and abuse and have stories of hope to share with other women. All the women knew nothing about computers but were willing to take up the challenge to learn. Café sessions are run every alternate Friday teaching the ladies the use of New and Social Media to share their stories and they learn technologies such as GMAIL, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging Flickr, Youtube, internet research, Google docs, Google calendar and Skype.

Another initiative that emerged from the this project is a Social Media programme for young girls who come from broken and dysfunctional homes, orphanages and abusive backgrounds. Social Media is used as a tool to teach the young girls Life skills and giving them a voice to share their stories and to encourage other young girls.”

What also excites me is that the programme is currently being managed by last year’s graduates of The Reconstructed under the supervision of Terence Hendricks. Below is a video of one of the moms sharing more about why she joined the Mom 3.0 programme.


RLabs at the World Bank Innovation Fair

Last week the RLabs team had the opportunity to be the Social Media partner for the Innovation Fair hosted by the World Bank. This event brought together great minds from all over the world who discussed innovations in the area of Moving Beyond Conflict. For more about the activities at the Innovation Fair visit the Social Network site.

The Innovation Fair was an opportunity for the RLabs – Social Media Factory team to use their Social Media skills to share the activities over the two days of the event. Seeing the transformation in the lives of the team was really encouraging and they all did a wonderful job at the Innovation Fair.


Day 1: Top 10 Tweets at World Bank Innovation Fair

After such an amazing day and due to still buzzing (No reference to Google Buzz), engagement on the floor was incredible but we also had some interesting tweets to share about the Innovation Fair by delegates at the event and those unable to attend. All updates about the World Bank Innovation Fair in Cape Town can be followed using the #InnovFair hashtag.

My personal Top 10 tweets for Day 1 can be viewed below in no specific order:











Well then there is my personal favourite and just another reminder that too much technology does not bring about change but it is always about the people:


Watch this space for tomorrow’s top 10 tweets and lets start change one tweet at a time…